The decade of the 2010s was a disaster for the Southsiders, failing to make the playoffs once. The last time the Chicago White Sox made the postseason was 2008, when the Tampa Bay Rays knocked them out in the American League Division Series. A crucial reason for Chicago’s lack of success is thanks in large part to certain moves the front office made over the last 10 years.
But after many years of disappointment, there’s a sense of optimism surrounding the organization. Chicago has a very exciting young core with the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and top prospect Luis Robert, among others. They were very busy this past offseason, adding numerous key pieces such as Edwin Encarnacion, Nomar Mazara, Dallas Keuchel, and Gio Gonzalez. With a solid mix of youngsters and veterans who can all make an impact, the postseason drought could be over for the White Sox, as we wait for the 2020 season to begin.
Over the next several weeks Baseball Essential will be doing a series on the best and worst trade every team in Major League Baseball has made over the last decade. Here is the best and worst trade the Chicago White Sox have made since 2010.
The Best Trade The White Sox Have Made Since 2010: Chicago acquires Michael Kopech, Victor Diaz, Yoan Moncada, and Luis Alexander Basabe from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale (December 6, 2016).
It’s hard to think that trading away Chris Sale could be a benefit. But after many years of dominating in a White Sox uniform, it was evident that the hard-throwing lefty wanted to play for a contender: a team where he could actually make the playoffs and win a World Series title; he got that wish in 2018 when the Red Sox won it all. Sale was brilliant during his time on the Southside, compiling a 3.00 ERA in seven seasons. However, with the White Sox looking to rebuild, they had to trade him. In return, Chicago got numerous prospects who have developed into important pieces to the team’s future.
Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech were the headliners of this trade. Moncada was a five-tool player who had an extremely high ceiling, while Kopech profiled as a possible front-line starter or closer, depending on how much he grew in the next few years.
Moncada has become one of Chicago’s most productive players over the last couple of years. In his first full big-league campaign (2018), the 24-year-old hit just .235 in 149 games, while smacking 17 home runs. It was Moncada’s first serious taste of a 162-game season, so it’s understandable why he struggled. It was in 2019 where Moncada really came into his own. In 132 games the former top prospect hit .315 with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs.
What really exemplified Moncada’s offensive growth was his ability to cut down on strikeouts. In 2018 the youngster struck out 217 times. Last year he totaled just 154 strikeouts. Moncada is just tapping into his potential offensively, profiling to be a player who can hit 30-plus home runs and hit over .300 in the near future. A solid defender at either second or third base, Moncada is the full package. It was definitely the right move to acquire him in this trade because the sky is the limit for the young infielder.
Kopech has flashed huge potential over the last few years, most notably because of his triple-digit fastball that has reached 105 mph. The 23-year-old enjoyed a short stint in the bigs in 2018, making four appearances and compiling a 5.02 ERA. He got hit around a bit in Chicago, but his control wasn’t a problem at all. Before his call up, Kopech was lights out in Triple A, going 7-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts.
Tommy John Surgery caused Kopech to miss all of 2019, but the amount he grew as a pitcher between 2017 and 2018 was impressive. His strikeout numbers skyrocketed while giving up fewer walks. Once the 2020 season begins he’ll probably start in Triple A, but if Kopech picks up where he left off in 2018, a call-up to the bigs will happen sooner rather than later. Despite the command being iffy at times, his stuff is absolutely electric. He profiles to be a frontline starter with the ability to keep his velocity deep in games. He’s still young, but Kopech has the ability to be a future star on the mound for the White Sox.
The Worst Trade The Chicago White Sox Have Made Since 2010: Chicago acquires James Shields from the San Diego Padres for Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis Jr. (June 4, 2016).
This is, without a doubt, the worst trade the White Sox have made since 2010. They gave away a future All-Star in Fernando Tatis Jr. while acquiring a 34-year-old starter in James Shields who was on his last legs.
The White Sox signed Tatis as a 17-year-old, but he failed to even play a game for them before being traded to San Diego. He’s now one of the brightest stars in the big leagues, and if he didn’t get injured last season, the National League Rookie of the Year Award was his for the taking. The 21-year-old hit .317 in 84 games for the Padres last season with 22 home runs and 53 RBIs while making highlight-reel plays on a regular basis at shortstop.
Obviously, the White Sox had no idea he’d develop into such a stud. But with baseball bloodlines that run deep with his father Fernando Tatis playing 11 years in the big leagues, Chicago shouldn’t have given Tatis Jr. up so easily, especially for a mid 30s James Shields.
Let’s jump into the worst part of this trade. The White Sox didn’t just give up a five-tool player with massive potential: they got an aging Shields who was absolutely dreadful during his time in a Sox uniform. In two and a half seasons with Chicago, Shields went 16-35 with a 5.31 ERA while giving up 92 home runs in just 77 appearances. To boot, when they acquired him in early June of 2016, Shields went 4-12 with a career-worst 6.77 ERA from that point on in 22 starts.
What they thought would be a nice addition to their rotation turned out to be a disaster on numerous levels. The White Sox were able to build one of the best farm systems in baseball over the next few years while Shields ate up innings. That’s about the only positive of this trade.
Stay tuned to Baseball Essential over the next few weeks for more on the best and worst trades made by all 30 MLB clubs over the past 10 years.